August Update: Ironman UK
4th Pro 8:53.15
(49:02, 5:03:13, 2:56.38)
I was very happy with my overall time on Sunday, in fact my overall time was faster than Dan’s winning time in 2012 but I was just short of my goal to podium at this year’s edition of Ironman UK.
I had punched the no’s I felt would of challenged the best of the guys on the day but in the end an unsettled stomach, some vomit & an energy crash in the closing stages of the marathon saw the possibility of running through to 2nd place fade and holding onto my podium position of 3rd slip through my fingers.
I fought as hard as I could but it wasn’t meant to be, it’s racing at the end of the day, everybody goes through their own highs and lows and all credit to Dan, Stephen & Joe for executing great races in probably one of the toughest IM courses on the circuit and strongest fields assembled here.
I had watched Ironman UK last year with interest and even working full time these days as an Oil & Gas engineer I felt with the right preparation, no offshore trips (fingers crossed) without illness or injury I would still challenge the top guys for top honours. I know I have the ability to podium with some of the guys still not able to knock a sub 3 marathon & if I could stay with the front pack in the swim / bike or hold a 5-10 min deficit off the bike, even winning the race is still a possibility…
My training programme hadn’t really changed significantly from last year since racing at Challenge UK with the exception I had a consistent period of no run injuries and no illness’s going in. My training regime consisted of after work evening trainings sessions (sometimes double sessions) & more duration when the evenings got long in Aberdeen from April, then overloading my weekends to 6-8 hr training days. I did swap 2 mid-week run sessions for intense group rides with the GCRT, and strategically place a 3 week holiday around my sister’s wedding where I was able to knock out about 17/18 days’ worth of Pro like training whilst I was in Kelowna (Canada).
The full time like training in Kelowna hitting my old training base routes really helped to get my weight down from about 67/68kgs to about 64/65kgs. As a comparison when I raced full time at 2010 IMWA (2nd 8:17.52) I was on for a 2:45/46 marathon before the 40C heat got me with bad cramps but my weight back then was about 61/62 kgs.
IM Bolton was my A race of the year, and I took a lot of confidence winning my first British Middle Distance Championship on limited run training & a hip flexor pull back in early June. After then I solely focussed my training for Ironman, it is what I know and what I do best. With some of my continued support sponsors Powerbar, ON, Compressport, & Zerod being Event Sponsors also I felt I really wanted do them proud.
I hadn’t raced the UK IM event since 2008 when it was held at Sherborne Castle so the new venue in Bolton presented a new challenge for me. The course consisted of various sections mainly two point to point sections & loops in both the bike / run sections and with that two transitions and a separate finish area. I have to thank my homestays Chris Kitchen & Rachael Marsh for looking after me so well and driving me around the course and doing the needful during my short visit. They were first class and I was under no pressure by them… if I didn’t place I would be looking for accommodation elsewhere 😉
Ironman is a long day, sometime things don’t quite go to plan and along the way you just deal with what you’re presented as best as you can. From the horn being sounded I set off fast with intention to try stay with the leaders but with Harry Wiltshire and Dan Hawskworth pushing the pace it was fast start wearing my new HUUB Archimedes Wetty & Zoggs Polarised Predators. I felt fine as I headed up the first 800 meters or so until I got clipped on the head and had a goggle adjustment to make mid swim, soon after settling in at the back of the pack I lost the feet & missed the tow.
My swim then was pretty uneventful swimming solo in no man’s land (or no man’s water) until I neared the finish of the first loop. I got a bit disorientated by the low sun and mistook the swim start banner for the swim exit banner… A rookie error, by the time I realised I reckon I lost a good 30 /40 sec and 1 position. I re-adjusted my swim & completed the 2nd loop still by myself and headed onto the bike after a 49:02 swim.
Heading through T1 I think I was just over 4/5 mins down on Stephen & Dan – this was not factored in so early. I set about the bike and after 10 ks in Skipper & McCurdy rode up to me. For the first loop we took our fair share of the pace setting at the front, exchanged words and caught the German Wagner soon after the sheep lane hill climb. On the second loop Skipper sat back and said he had a slow leak which was possible as he took a sharp turn badly and ended up in the grass ditch.
This left mostly McCurdy and myself to push the pace & then on the final lap Skipper disappeared on the final sheep lane climb, maybe he headed into the SRAM support for more air, not sure but he came rocketing through on the fast downhill section in a break away attempt. On his first big push I was able to bridge back up to him leaving the other 2 behind but upon his next effort 20Ks to the bike finish I experienced really bad indductors cramps and had to pedal easy until it had passed.
It was quite frustrating as the energy was still good and taken all the Powerbar gels I had planned. I entered T2 with McCurdy and Wagner, skipper was 2 mins or so ahead and to be honest I didn’t notice that Harry was in Penalty box at this time nor that Fraser was behind after cycling off course.
Onto the run with my Greeper laced ON racers I firstly set about chasing the little time McCurdy got on me in T2 & then I set about making up the time I lost Skipper at the end of the bike. During this time I was told I was in 4th and it was Game on – only 10 min to leaders.
My training leading in was showing good times In fact I reckoned a 2:50 marathon was a realistic target. I felt pretty comfortable, maybe too comfortable and went with the feeling than pace setting off the watch – my gf said subsequently I started off at 2:45 pace according to the IM splits.
I was free flowing felt great & caught Skipper at about mile 9 – 10 heading into Bolton town centre for the first time. Upon the 2nd loop I could see I was making a little time up on Dan and big chunks of time on Stephen who looked in big trouble. At the current pace I was on for 2:51/52 marathon & comfortable. Upon the start of the 2nd loop I was throwing up a little but mostly keeping down what I was taking in, but upon starting the 3rd and final loop the free flowing legs were slowing up and what looked to be sure catch of Stephen soon faded as the lights dimmed & I began seeing stars.
All credit to Joe reeling me back in and took full advantage to make time on the final ascent to the turn around. I managed to get coke back into the system and get the legs going again heading back down the hill for the last time but there was no chance of recovery… I hit the finish shoot happy I gave everything and don’t really think I could done much else than played the hand I did.
The support for me out on the course was amazing, from fellow athletes to the spectators out on the streets, it was brilliant and certainly helped fight through to hold a 2:56 marathon, the 2nd fastest of the day. Racing on home turf was so much fun throughout and getting to the finish chute all the more rewarding.
Thanks again to my homestays Chris & Rachael, to all the Ironman volunteers, my family & friends, spectators and supporters, Cheggers & Dougie for staying awake in my time for special needs 😉 and to my continued Sponsors Carol Emma & Ron at Aberdeen Sports Therpy / Riverside Chiro,Joe Beer @ jbst.com, RGU Sport, On Running, Powerbar, Zerod, Compressport, Huub, Neovite, Greepers, Zoggs and Holburn Cycles to their 1st bike support and sponsored ceramic wheels bearings
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